What If (by Grant Bentley)

What If

by Grant Bentley

If any nice person, nasty person, place, event, happening, thing, or sport, seems familiar,
it is purely coincidental.

One never knows where the ‘used to be best friend’ who’s
picking you up for a Halloween get-together may lead.

Hi, I’m Brady Collins if you want to know. I’m a tad skinny and suck at sports. I’m seventeen, I’ve got green eyes and red hair, and even though my freckles have freckles, I guess I look kind of okay. Being 6’3” doesn’t seem to help. And when I look in the mirror and turn sideways, I wish I didn’t look so much like a long unlit wooden matchstick. But hey, whatever.

Anyway, for like forever, a bunch of us got together to have fun on Halloween. Almost since before diapers we’d all go out trick or treating, then go to someone’s house, do the ‘I like this, I don’t like that, trade ya,’ then divide up the goodies and party. It had been tons of fun. That is until a few years ago. It seems since mid-junior high we’d started to go our own ways. Jocks got together with the other jocks, geeks with geeks, and the rest of us seemed to just do our thing, whatever it was.

So yeah, Halloween. I wasn’t going to go this year. I didn’t see the point. None of us were really friends anymore. Last year most of the guys were with their girlfriends and it just wasn’t the same. Plus, I don’t do girlfriends.

As per usual of course, it was a couple of days before Halloween when I ran into Jeff.

“Hey Brady, you coming to Kary’s for Halloween?” he asked.

“No, I don’t think so,” I replied.

“Why not? Come on, you’ve got to come. It’s the only night we all get together, it won’t be the same without you,” he stated.

“That’s just it. We don’t hang out together any more. Besides I’ll be the only one there without a girlfriend, I mean, you know, and I’m gonna be feeling kinda weird,” I said.

“Hey, you won’t be the only one there without a girlfriend. I just broke up with Sue, so I won’t be bringing anyone either. I’ll make sure you won’t feel weird or left out,” he said with a laugh.

“Okay, I’ll think about it,” I said.

“Good, I’ll see you there,” he stated.

Speaking of Jeff, he and I used to be good friends, but now he’s the star on the high school basketball team and in cross country. He’s so popular I was surprised he wasn’t bringing a date. He was hot, had the perfect body, and a totally cute smile. And he had girls near fainting whenever he just looked their way. He had me too, but when he started dating those girls that was kinda the end of hope for us.  

The night of the party I was at home, sitting on the sofa, and watching TV when the doorbell rang.

I answered it and, “Hi Brady, I thought I’d stop by to give you a ride,” Jeff said. 

“Jeff, I really don’t feel like going,” I said.

“So you’re just going to sit at home alone? I don’t think so,” he stated. 

He walked over, grabbed my arm, and led me to my bedroom saying, “Find some jeans and a shirt and let’s go.”

I didn’t bother arguing, I just got dressed, and in a minute, we were in his car and on the way. We got to the party and most of the gang were already there. A few kids came to the door trick or treating and Jeff had to treat them. In fact, kids chanting trick or treat at the door was the only Halloweenish thing going on. Oh, and Kary’s weird hat.

I just got myself a Coke from the fridge. When I got back to the living room a couple of the guys came over to me to say hi and have a quick chat. That was about it though, and I was soon alone with my thoughts, standing on the deck, and just staring out into space.

I barely heard Shelly say her cousin, who was now living with her, had arrived. When I turned, I met a very talkative extraordinarily non-ordinary looking Ernie Ryder Lysander-Brooks. Yep, he was wearing lime green jeans, a pink shirt, and rainbow coloured runners. Oh yeah, and red underwear, not that I looked. He wasn’t the slightest bit shy either. After a ten-minute conversation, among other things, I learned that he was versatile. Yes he was, and yes I was … aware that is. It also seems he hadn’t been having a good time before he moved here and had been sadly alone for almost a month. I guess his boyfriends had met each other, hit it off quite well, and got together. How sad I thought. Yep, uh huh.

He never slowed down either, and was sort of entertaining, well in his own way, but to turn and call out, “Help … save me,” didn’t seem like a good idea.

But help came and Jeff was suddenly standing beside us. After listening for a minute or so, he said, “Come on Brady, you need to get into this with us.”

“Thanks,” I said as we walked away and I gave Ernie a little wave.

“Anytime,” he replied laughing.

We moved the furniture back and were all facing the TV. The first game was charades. Some of them were really good and it was actually almost fun. Then we had to sit in a circle. Kary placed a bottle in the middle and ‘would you rather’ it was. It was also almost fun too, especially when some of the answers pissed off a couple of people. Then is was spin the bottle / truth or dare.

It carried on for a while before it pointed at me. Since most people had done something stupid, and there was no way I was going to choose truth with this lot, I chose dare and got to do the chicken dance. Then two spins later and I got to stick my tongue in Bev’s ear. That was an ewww. And then I’m damned if it didn’t immediately point at me again.

“You have to kiss the next person the bottle points to,” Kary said.

That I didn’t want to do. I mean Ernie had joined us, and with my luck, what if it pointed at him? Never mind being Ernie Ryder, what if he wanted to be Brady Ryder afterwards? But after a few seconds I finally figured, ‘yeah, ok, whatever’ and nodded that I would go for it.

I spun the bottle again, and it spun round several times before coming to a rest. And it was pointing at guess who? Yep, Jeff.

What I’ve always wanted to do, well among other things, had to be kissing Jeff … so okay, I could do that. He got up, walked around, and I stood up. We slowly moved closer and then we were actually … OMG … kissing. Surprisingly, it wasn’t all that short and quick … and he kissed me back.

“Fags,” and laughter was heard from a few, followed by “fuck you” and an easily recognizable hand gesture from Jeff. 

When the party broke up, he drove me home along with a couple of others. I said my good nights as I got out of the car. Then I went straight into the house and straight up to my room.

As I lay in my bed I had to wonder. Okay, he said he wanted me there, he picked me up, rescued me from Ernie, and kissed me back … like actually kissed me back … and he knows I don’t do girlfriends, so I had to wonder, ‘What if?’

On second thought, of course that was impossible. He had more hot dates and girls drooling over him than any guy in school. And school the next day was the usual. A couple of classes then lunch. At the cafeteria I saw Jeff sitting with his crew, but I finished my lunch on my own and went to my locker to grab my stuff.

“Hey Brady, why didn’t you join us at lunch?” I suddenly heard.

“Nothing’s really changed,” I replied.

“Look, maybe we don’t have as much in common as we used to, but that’s no reason to avoid each other,” he added.

“Okay, maybe,” I said, as the bell rang for end of lunch.

“I’ll be at the track after school,” he said as he ran off.

And go to the track I did. As I arrived, I watched a couple of races going on. In the second one Jeff was the one out in front the whole race. When the race ended, I made my way down to the track and he saw me. He waved and ran over.

“Hey Brady, did you see the race?” he asked.

“Yes I did,” I replied with a grin.

“I think I did pretty good, yeah?” he asked, also with a grin.

“Yeah I’d say so,” I said, still grinning.

“Hey, why don’t you come with me. I’ve just got to shower and change, and then we can drive home,” he said.

I followed him into the locker room, where he stripped before going over to his locker and grabbing a towel.

Okay … I couldn’t say that wasn’t a well appreciated treat.

“Wait here?” he asked

“Sure,” I replied, as I took a deep breath and made a minor adjustment.

We soon left the locker room and went over to his car. As he pulled up at my house he asked if I was up to anything tonight. I replied that I had a bit of school work then probably TV. He then asked if I wanted to meet up at the diner, hang out, then stay over at his place for the night as his mom was away and he’d have the place to himself.  I thought about it for like a second and said that I’d have to check with my folks, but yeah.

“Even if you can’t stay over you can come to the diner,” he said.

Mom greeted me as soon as I got in. I asked her if I could stay at a friend’s tonight. She of course announced it was a school night. Then since I never seem to be friendly with anyone anymore, she asked who it was. I said Jeff.

“Now there’s a name I haven’t heard for a while,” she said laughing.

“Please Mom, I promised that I’d help him with some math homework and it may go late,” I said.

“Okay, sure you can. I don’t want you guys up too late though, it is a school night after all,” she said after a bit of thinking.

I did an hour of school work then made my way to the diner. There were a bunch of guys there and Jeff was right, everyone seemed happy to see me. Most of them were with their girlfriends of course.

After an hour or so we ended up at his place. We watched a bit of TV, actually did some math, had more to eat, and eventually ended up laying back on his bed watching some more TV.

When I accidentally brushed his hand, he leant over and placed a quick kiss on my cheek. Ok, that was a serious surprise. Then, when I turned to face him, he put his hand on the back of my head, and we were into some serious making out. I’m not going to mention anything else, except this whole sleepover thing was so not what I was expecting.

I woke the next morning and it took a sec to clue in as I looked around, soon focusing on Jeff.

“Hey,” I said

“Hey yourself, did you sleep well?” he asked.

“I had a great sleep,” I replied

“Me too,” he said laughing.

“I’m going for my morning run in a bit, you wanna come?” he asked.

“Yeah for sure,” I replied.

We both quickly got dressed in shorts and t’s and left his house. Two miles later we were back at the house. He asked if I wanted a shower. I said I did and went up to the bathroom. I turned on the shower and was soon standing there, my eyes closed, and enjoying the warm spray, when I suddenly felt not alone.

“I thought I’d join you, that okay?” I heard.

I just turned, smiled, and we kissed. I grabbed the big soap bar and started to help him wash.

‘Could it really get any better than this?’ I had to wonder.

Our shower over with, we went back to his room, got dressed, and made our way down for breakfast.

“Mom’s away tonight as well, do you think your folks will mind you staying over another night?” he asked.

“I don’t know, but I’m sure it’ll be alright since it’s Friday,” I replied.

"I’d forgotten how good it was waking up next to you," he said as we were eating.

"Yeah but we actually slept all night when we had sleepovers back then" I replied laughing.

"I know, but I’ll let you in on a secret. I used to think about doing stuff when we had sleepovers, but I never got up the nerve to try," he confessed … before adding with a big grin, “And besides, I like red.”

That got a laugh and got me to thinking that maybe this wasn’t a onetime, bit of crossing the line fun. Hmmm. What if?

We finished breakfast and made our way to his car. When we got there, we got out of his car and went our separate ways to class. I got the bus back home after classes as he had a practice, and again asked my Mom if I could stay over at Jeff’s. She said of course I could and reminded me to finish any homework that I had before the weekend started. I was finishing my English and didn’t hear the doorbell ring, but I heard my bedroom door open as Jeff walked in. He walked up to me, tilted my head, kissed me, and told me Mom said I could stay the whole weekend … Yes!

I quickly got my stuff together, said bye to Mom, and we headed out to the car and off to Jeff’s. Once there he suggested that we have something to eat. We had a couple of pot pies and sat watching the TV for a while chatting about school and stuff. Later, we once again quite enjoyed getting ready to go to sleep.

And yes, Saturday was a very enjoyable day. So was Sunday, and that evening, as we were relaxing, he said it all. “Brady, you have no idea how special you are. You’re one of the most caring, genuine people I know, and I’m back to figuring how much our friendship means.”

“You have tons of people who mean a lot to you,” I said.

“Maybe you’re right, but when we kissed at Kary’s, I felt it. I felt it, and I knew I’d found the one thing I’ve always been missing. After years of being best friends, to a couple of years of being almost barely acquaintances, I knew it. I’d found the one someone who loves me for me, and not for who they think I am,” he said.

This was like WOW!

Then with a chuckle, and a quick kiss to the top of my head, he really did the OMG WOW, I don’t know how to respond, thing.

“You think everyone’ll still love me when they find out the one I’m totally in love with is you?” he asked.

All I could do was just cuddle in tighter.

Yes, the weekend was pretty awesome I must say. A lot of it was clothing optional too, which was cool, but most of all, I had the person I’d always loved … and it seemed that he now did too.

Then Monday morning, as we reached the school and parked, he leaned over and kissed me. Yep, our school sports hero kissed me. Oh, and I kissed him back. Yes I did. And as the day progressed, it seems the only one who cared, except for several dozen girls, was Harvey. It seems he wanted to know what I had that he didn’t.

And just know, after some twelve years of morning runs, I still look like an unlit matchstick if I turn sideways, but I don’t care. Cause I still wake up next to this most amazing sports hero and I have to laugh and think, thank goodness for that Halloween party I wasn’t going to go to. And as his arm tightens around me, I smile as I think of that infamous question, “What if?”

If you enjoyed reading this story, please let me know! Authors thrive by the feedback they receive from readers. It’s easy: just click on the email link at the bottom of this page to send me a message. Say “Hi” and tell me what you think about ‘What If’. Thanks.

This story and the included images are Copyright © 2019-2021 by Grant Bentley. They cannot be reproduced without express written consent. Codey's World web site has written permission to publish this story. No other rights are granted.

This story may contain occasional references to minors who are or may be gay. If it were a movie, it would be rated PG13 (in a more enlightened time it would be rated G). If reading this type of material is illegal where you live, or if you are too young to read this type of material based on the laws where you live, or if your parents don’t want you to read this type of material, or if you find this type of material morally or otherwise objectionable, or if you don’t want to be here, close your browser now. The author neither condones nor advocates the violation of any laws. If you want to be here, but aren’t supposed to be here, be careful and don’t get caught!